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I'm looking for information related to a resident demographic in which the majority of a community are renters in single family homes. Growth, education and public safety initiatives placed before voters are largely swayed by the impact on property tax and rent. How does a City best address these issues to the "out of town" property owner who's decisions ultimately affect the renter resident?

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Charles MarohnStaff
President of Strong Towns

How does a City best address these issues to the "out of town" property owner who's decisions ultimately affect the renter resident?

We get this a lot in my home area where a large percentage of property owners are weekend-only visitors from the Twin Cities metro and/or snowbirds who don't live here year round and so are seen as not fully vested. There two ways I've seen this handled, both I am not a proponent of.

  1. Hold your elections when they are gone. That is basically what our school district does, holding their bond referendums in March/April when they are least likely to get turnout by those they consider non-vested (but can still credibly claim to be listening to them because it's not January/February when they are all gone).
  2. Apply shame. Make the case that they owe it to the whole to pay.

Both of these are premised on the notion that they are not vested, which I disagree with. They bought property in the community --- they did what we asked them to do when we approved their development -- and it's pretty unreasonable for us to now say they don't count. This would be even more true if they were simply renters of single family homes, as you described.

I don't have a good answer for this beyond the obvious: you need to find common ground to work from. That might be difficult, inconvenient, and ultimately less successful to one's objectives than finding a way to invalidate the opposition's vote (or right to participate fully), but I don't see another way to have a community of people do things that will last.

Sorry if that is not the answer you were looking for.